Coming Up With New Romance Plots: What Moves Me
by Suzanne Barrett
by Suzanne Barrett
Why do I write the stories I do? Each of my books is set in a different location with a protagonist engaged in an unusual activity. My interest in England and Ireland fueled several stories: TAMING ROWAN is set in England’s Cumbria; IN LOVE AND WAR is set in County Waterford. SIERRA BRIDE is a historical with an Irish immigrant heroine, set in Eastern California near where I lived as a girl.
AN IRISH ROGUE is set in my home town of Santa Cruz, California. LATE HARVEST explores the Mendocino wine country. I’m currently working on another wine country story, INDECENT PROPOSAL, again set in my home town. (Wine country, wine-making, and the Santa Cruz Mountains are of particular interest to me.)
I love the tortured hero. It is satisfying to watch him stumble and pick himself up again and again until he finally has his light-bulb moment and realizes that what holds him back from achieving his goal is … himself. I empathize with a heroine who also has baggage but is, underneath it all, an honorable person.
For me, reading fiction is an escape. I want my protagonists to struggle to achieve their happy ending. I want to see character growth that makes them worthy of their goals.
A character may have a less-than-honorable beginning, but to satisfy the romantic in me, he or she must have a moment of truth that changes everything once thought correct and sets him/her on a new path. One of the ways I work to achieve reader empathy with a less-than-wholesome character is to show the mental push-pull going on. If my heroine acts like a twit, she’d better have an inner voice questioning her behavior. I think this helps a reader relate to someone who behaves badly because she then knows that character is acting “out of character.”
Settings and character traits do not make a story new, but if an author can fully engage her reader with likable protagonists and also create a unique setting, that story can be a classic and still feel fresh and exciting.
I used this technique in TAMING ROWAN, a story about a project engineer, an alpha male who lays down a “no women on site” rule, and a youthful, talented heroine who fights for acceptance. Pretty standard fare? However, I made it unique by making the heroine a structural engineer with just the right qualifications for the project. Then I set the story at a remote antenna installation in northern England. The dishy but rude British project officer is then forced by circumstances beyond his control to accept the young American. Add the remote beauty of the Fells, cozy English pubs, wild storms, and an unwanted but undeniable attraction between the hero and heroine and you have the recipe for a romance that isn’t the norm.
In LOVING LUKE I have created a wounded warrior, a reclusive photographer who was badly burned in a car crash and now struggles to revive his career and heal emotionally, and a social worker with a tender heart. Add a high-achieving family to whom she’s the square peg, a quirky gal pal, and a torrential storm that strands the heroine overnight at the hero’s cabin and… well, I’ll let you be the judge.
One reviewer said: “This book hits all my love buttons! I love the characters, from Jo, the conflicted heroine with the ritzy family, to the even more conflicted hero, Luke Falconer, who’s got demons and guilt and tremendous talent for photography and great heart, which he keeps hidden until it comes to Jo.”
I’d like to read your comments on what type of stories hit your love buttons.
About the Author:
Following a career in engineering, Suzanne has returned to her first love of writing and literature. Born in Southern California, Suzanne, along with her husband and an elderly cat make their home in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Suzanne is also a jewelry designer, and her wirework is shown at various arts and wine events throughout the county. (Visit her jewelry website at www.bellerustique.com.) In addition, she has an Irish travel website with articles, recipes and an extensive photo gallery. When she's not writing or designing jewelry, Suzanne loves to garden.
First published by Kensington Books, Suzanne's first novel for Turquoise Morning Press was Late Harvest a Mendocino California wine country story, followed by her two-time Golden Heart finalist book In Love and War a story set in County Waterford, Ireland. Taming Rowan is set in England's Cumbria district and one borne of her work in aerospace. She has also released over the past year or so: Gift of the Heart, Sierra Bride, An Irish Rogue, Risking it All, Loving Luke and her most recent release, The Prodigal Lover
Visit Suzanne at:
of Herringbone Green Jasper Earrings hand made by Suzanne
and a digital copy of Loving Luke
TO ENTER THIS GIVEAWAY for earrings and digital copy:
1. MANDATORY FOR ENTRY: Leave a comment here for Suzanne answering "What type of stories hit your love buttons?"
2. For two additional entries visit the author's website or blog and tell me something you find of interest.
3. For an additional entry comment on my review of Loving Luke or one of my reviews of Suzanne's other titles found through this link.
PLEASE LEAVE YOUR EMAIL OR WAY TO CONTACT YOU.
Four total entries possible; separate comments not required.
* This contest is open Worldwide.
* This contest will close 10 PM (Central) on November 2, 2012.
The winner will be randomly selected from all entries.
WINNERS WILL BE ANNOUNCED on November 3, 2012.
Winners will have 72 hours to respond by email or the winners form linked in the announcement.